Original Havana Sandwich Shop in $20 | Restaurants
ATLANTA – After the original Havana Sandwich shop was “completely gutted” by fire in 2008, two Havana Sandwich shops opened in the general vicinity of the “original” both claiming the title.
Over the years, there has been much debate about which shop deserved the title of the original, but for many, Havana Restaurant at 3979 Buford Highway in Atlanta retains the crown. Considered one of Atlanta’s iconic restaurant survivors along with the Varsity, The Collanade and the recently closed Pano’s and Paul’s, Havana has been serving up sandwiches and Cuban fare for 35 years.
Eddie Benedit Sr. and his wife, Debbie, opened the restaurant in 1976, only a couple of years after he came to the United States from Cuba. Eddie was always very conscious of the restaurant’s quality, consistency and affordability, and prices reflect that. The restaurant offers panini-style sandwiches, traditional Cuban fare and desserts at moderate prices.
Every Tuesday, the Where U Live team chooses a Metro Atlanta restaurant and, with the restaurant's help, shows you how you can sample the menu without spending too much. This week we spoke with 11Alive web producer Eve Chen about how to get the most bang for our buck at Havana.
Chen suggests the Black Bean Soup, as a starter. Black beans are a staple in Cuban and Latin American cooking; they’re pretty easy to cook and they are a flavorful source of protein and nutrients. The restaurant serves their beans in an 8 oz. cup. You can try the Black Bean Soup a la carte for $2.50 or as a side in several combo options.
As a main course, Chen, who grew up in Miami, suggests Picadillo because it’s a “comfort food you find in actual Cuban homes.” Picadillo is a ground beef dish made with peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, tomato sauce and olives. The generous dinner portion is served with maduros (sweet plantains), rice, salad and bread. The Picadillo meal will set you back about $9.25.
If you have room for dessert, Chen recommends the Flan. Flan is a tart crafted of thick custard. She describes it as being “light, sweet and nice and cool on a summer day.” The restaurant serves Flan for $2.50.
Chen accompanies her meals with Café con Leche or Coffee and Milk. She says, “It’s different from lattes, even though it’s the same principal. It’s espresso and steamed milk, but smokier and sweeter.” Havana serves up this version of joe for $2.50.